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Re: CBS: Ulterior motive for crashing Compton?

On Mon, 5 Jun 2000, Jeff Davis wrote:

> http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,201777-412,00.shtml
> CBS Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has learned NASA recently 
> briefed the White House about the very real possibility that MIR 
> could soon plunge wildly to earth. 

This is unlikely, as Mir was recently boosted into a higher orbit.
The reboost was done in hopes that a private company, Mircorp, would
come up with sufficient funding to keep Mir flying as a commercial
outpost. However, this has yet to materialize, but Mir is still
high enough that it isn't going to be coming down anytime soon.

> + The U.S. government cannot predict where surviving MIR hardware will
> impact the ground. 
> + Components of MIR will survive reentry. 
> + Damage could be significant if the entry is uncontrolled and it impacts
> a populated area. 

Unfortunately, old news. Skylab taught us this lesson in spades.

> NASA also told the White House it should work to, "avoid the appearance
> of U.S. responsibility." 

How the US government could be held responsible in any way for a piece
of hardware that they have no control over is something I fail to
comprehend. Then again, given some of the odder law suits that have
been filed of recent, I guess anything is possible.....

> To prevent a horrific scenario, NASA is urging Russia to send MIR into a
> controlled kamikaze dive in the coming months. Russia hasn't agreed.

Actually, NASA has been asking Russia to do something like this since
a year or so ago. They're interested in seeing Russia decide where it's
going to put it's limited space resources: Mir or the new ISS. Given
that we've got a good stake in getting ISS up and running, and the
Russians are supposed to supply some major pieces of hardware, NASA
has good reason to hope they can get Russia to focus on ISS.

> Which gets back to one of the reasons why NASA may have been so quick to
> accept the demise of the Compton Telescope. 

No, actually, it sounds a lot more like NASA was really worried about
Compton going out of control and over-reacted. Why, with the ISS
assembly schedule on hold, they couldn't have set up a service
mission to Compton (which, like Hubble, was designed for in-orbit
service calls) is something I don't think I'll debate. Money, more
than likely, but that's SWAG more than fact....


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